USA -- Former Press Union of Liberia (PUL) President, Mr. Abraham G. Massaley has said that President Sirleaf used "soft power" to keep the legislature in check and the students quiet but grossly neglected to lead.
He said President Sirleaf was presented with the best opportunity for Liberia's development than any other Liberian President but said she squandered that golden opportunity, pointing out that her government will be best remembered for corruption.
He said the greatest threat to peace and stability now facing Liberia is the uncontrollable corruption, noting that public officials have become emboldened, in your face corruption, due to the absence of the rule of law and the impunity culture that has become deeply entrenched in the country.
The former PUL President said the government under President Sirleaf became a cash cow for public officials, and lamented that our people were constrained to stand in line to get crumbs for survival from those public officials.
Mr. Massaley made the statement recently when he delivered the keynote address at the 3rd Annual Convention of the Association of Liberian Journalists in the Americas (ALJA) in Newark, Delaware, USA.
He said allocating thousands of United States dollars per month to individual legislators when some could not even earn US$500.00 in a whole year and the numerous leadership crises in both houses seemingly orchestrated by the Executive contributed significantly to weakening the legislature.
He pointed out that the Liberian National Student Union (LINSU) and the Federation of Liberian Youths (FLY) which are now on government payroll largely remained silent in the last 12 years.
Mr. Massaley said besides the human sufferings, the country is still in infrastructure crisis with our roads mainly unpaved, many impassable during the raining season, our bridges in deplorable shape, the health system in shambles and our educational system a national disgrace, pointing out that nearly the entire country is unemployed.
He said he has never seen such gross disparity between those living very large in Liberia, mainly public officials and those at the lowest end of the spectrum (the people), begging for crumbs to survive.
The former PUL President said the grievances for 1980 and the war are already being replayed, and said the country is already drifting from peace and stability, adding that history will not be kind to President Sirleaf.
He said Liberia is more vulnerable to violence today than any time in his lifetime, explaining that when a people are hungry, impoverished, hopeless and idle, and have nothing to live for, this is a recipe for chaos.
He noted that our institutions of government are weaker today and are in no better shape than President Sirleaf met them, and in many instances, even worse.
He also said our public officials today (elected and appointed) are the least respected than any time in his life time, and declared that President Sirleaf simply failed to lead.
Mr. Massaley said President Sirleaf was the darling of the west with billions of United States dollars in aid to Liberia under her, and a debt relief of US$4.6 Billion from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Word Bank under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative.
He, however lamented that Sirleaf administration’s annual budgets were the perfect recipe for corruption, pointing out that about 86.5% of Liberia's budget under President Sirleaf went to compensation of government employees, mainly government officials with only about 13.5 went to capital expenditure such as building roads and schools.
He credited Liberians for the peace and stability, noting that our people have resigned not to fight war any more but said the Sirleaf government exploited the fact that the people are war weary.
He said the human suffering in Liberia is unimaginable, the family structure especially in the Monrovia area has severely broken down due to extreme poverty and prostitution is a major problem while children are left to fend for themselves or to assume adult responsibilities.
He said he believes that awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to President Sirleaf was based on misinformation and was a bad example in promoting the cause of peace, justice, the rule of law, accountability and human dignity especially in Africa.
“There is no doubts on my mind that the 53rd Legislature was corrupt, weak and ineffective", the former PUL President said. He said unfortunately, Liberia is the only country where there is no ruling patty and no opposition as Senators and representatives cross party lines to form "majority blocks" where the grass is greener.
He said with a weak legislature, the country was left to the mercy of an imperial presidency for 12 years, and said lamentably, there was no mercy.
Mr. Massaley said the elections in October will offer yet another opportunity for us as a people to start anew, dream big dreams again and rekindle hope but said it has to start with free, fair, credible and transparent elections.
Mr. Massaley said judging from the recent experience in Kenya, international observers must not rush to declaring the election free, fair and transparent without complete, concrete and tangible facts, and urged the Supreme Court to exercise prudence and wisdom in deciding any election dispute, and maybe earn the trust of the people.